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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review December 3, 2007 / 23 Kislev 5768

Memo to the pundits: Conflicts can't be resolved until it's understood who is at fault for continuing them or why they persist

By Barry Rubin


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Let's see if we can glean some interesting points from the massive coverage of the Annapolis summit conference on the Middle East.


From Scott Wilson, Washington Post, November 24, 2007, Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal said, "If not for the Arab consensus we felt today, we would not have decided to go"


Whether this is just an inevitable excuse or a sincere statement it amounts to the same thing: the most radical factor, in this case Syria, has veto power over Arab politics. The old consensus mania remains an excuse for not doing anything. This is one more nail in the Peace Process II coffin. Wilson then writes:


"With its vast oil wealth and authority over Islam's holiest sites, Saudi Arabia exercises great sway among Arabs, including the two largest Palestinian factions."


But wait a minute. If Saudi Arabia can only come if the other Arab regimes give permission then how does it exercise great sway? And is there any evidence that the Saudis exercise sway over Fatah (to whom they don't give money) or to Hamas (to which they do, not the government but powerful individuals close to it)?


If ignoring what the prince says covers up a serious problem with Arab politics-each one of which plays iceberg to Peace Process II's Titanic-Wilson's next paragraph ignores another. The Saudis will not use whatever sway they have. Why?

It brings the danger of internal upheaval-increasing the number of bin Ladin supporters and terrorist attacks, too--since they have trained their people to equate Israel with the devil.

It creates the potential for inter-Arab conflicts, which disrupts the previously mentioned consensus, a consensus in which the most radical have veto power.

It could bring them into collision with an increasingly powerful Iran, which they fear.

Why should they bother? Let the United States and the West do all the work and take all the blame for failure.

And as long as they fail, the Saudis can mobilize support by bashing the West to cover up their own failings.

The sufferings, real and alleged, of the Palestinians are a great demagogic tool.

What if the peace process succeeded and the Saudis actually had to make peace and have normal relations with Israel. Shudder.

The Saudis still hate Fatah because of Yasir Arafat's dissing of them (American slang for "disrespect") and siding with Iraq against them in 1990-1991.


One rarely sees any of these points mentioned in the mass media or academic presentations yet they are at the core of Middle East politics.


And how about Wilson's revisionist formulation of the Saudi peace plan:


"Saudi Arabia is the chief proponent of a plan endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 that offers Israel broad recognition by Arabs in exchange for withdrawal from all territories seized in the 1967 war, including East Jerusalem. The Arab initiative, which Israeli negotiators refused to include in drafts of the joint statement, also calls for a `just' solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees who demand the right to return to homes inside Israel."


Well that sounds quite reasonable but "broad recognition" is a bit vague. You give us everything we want and we admit that you exist? And how about that slick presentation of the Palestinian demand of a "right to return?" Notice how Wilson makes this sounds like a mass movement rather than a slogan developed by the PLO and regimes as a way to wipe out Israel. And all of the rejection of peace is put on Israel. No mention of the PLO and Syrian refusal of peace in 2000. No mention of the Palestinian Authority's systematic breaking of its commitments.


In this context, it is interesting to counter-pose something from Amy Teibel, AP, November 25, 2007:


Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas "said he was committed to doing everything possible to hammer out an agreement in the coming year."


But will Abbas actually do anything? Will he break up planned terrorist attacks? Arrest those involved in terrorism? Stop the incitement in the Palestinian media, which he controls, to kill Israelis and which justifies terrorist attacks on them? Begin to educate for peace in the schools, mosques, and media? Fight corruption and the quick transfer of foreign aid into the pockets of his officials?


I doubt it. The mass media doesn't even mention it.


Another myth the media nurtures is exemplified in Michael Matza, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 26, 2007, appropriately entitled, "Pitfalls if Peace Talks Fail Again."


Matza does not rise to the occasion but does come up with a new phrase, "After months of intense but fruitless talks about how to end their mulish conflict, the warring parties bring their dispute to the edge of the Chesapeake Bay…for a conference orchestrated by President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice."


Get it? The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is "mulish," based on a stubborn blind stupidity by both sides. He continues:


"But in the Middle East, where blood is spilled routinely, the price of failure can be another round of deadly violence. To reach for peace is admirable. But it can quickly turn lethal if the groundwork isn't there and the effort fails, experts say.


"A flop could mean the extremist Palestinian faction Hamas expands its sphere of control from the Gaza Strip into the West Bank. It could weaken Palestinian moderates and energize another round of limited warfare if ordinary Palestinians, stirred by frustration, join the fighters because they see no political horizon that leads to a Palestinian state."


This is precisely backwards. First, it should be noted how disgusting is the phrase that in the Middle East "blood is spilled routinely." It is consistent with the "mulish" idea that all these people simply act irrationally. Bloodshed is terrible but it is not based on habit but on goals. It is the extremism of ends and of ideology that brings about the extremism of means.


The kind of thinking used by most Western reporters applies very well to Western society or politics but completely fails to comprehend how things work in the Middle East. No wonder this cannot explain the past, help in the present, or predict the future.


In this case, the model implies that people yearn for peace, compromise, and conciliation. When they don't get it they use violence. In fact, this has nothing to do with reality. The problem is that peace, compromise, and conciliation are equated with heresy, treason, and surrender. The more these "good" outcomes appear possible, the higher the level of violence used to prevent them. Consider that Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip led to Hamas taking over; Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon strengthened Hamas; the 1990s' peace process did not produce many Palestinian moderates; U.S. democracy promotion helped radical Islamists more than moderate democrats; and the invasion of Iraq did not bring peace and love among Iraqis.


This doesn't mean that the Annapolis conference or trying to achieve peace is a bad thing. But it does mean that no one is ever going to resolve a conflict until they understand who is at fault for continuing it or why it persists.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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JWR contributor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center, and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs. His latest book is "The Truth About Syria".


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© 2007, Barry Rubin